The Alabama Crimson Tide improved their record to 3-1 on the early season, blasting the best team they will play prior to the SEC schedule, Southern Miss, by a score of 12-5. The Tide stroked 14 hits in the game, the fourth straight game with double-digit hits. Chandler Avant and Cobie Vance lead the way with three safeties apiece.
Sophomore Brock Love drew the starting assignment on the mound and was greeted rudely as first baseman Dylan Burdeaux lead off the game with a long home run to left. Love allowed two more base runners in the first, before ending the inning with two strikeouts to hold the early deficit to 1-0. ‘Bama’s first three batters reached base in the bottom of the first, but could not score as the next three batters struck out.
The Tide looked to have taken control of the game in the bottom of the second by scoring five times. Taylor Poe, getting his first start of the year at catcher, walked to open the inning, and was followed by a single off the bat of Keith Holcombe. Avant smoked a double to score two runs, then stole third base. Gene Wood drove in Avant with a ground out to second base. After Vance singled for the second time, first baseman Hunter Alexander drilled a long home run just inside the left field foul pole for his second long ball of the year.
Love settled down with perfect innings in the second and third, and struck out the first two batters in the fourth. However, two singles, a walk and a double plated three runs to pull the Eagles within one run. Kyle Cameron replaced Love and recorded the third out. When Cameron ran into trouble in the fifth he was replaced by Sonny Potter. The Golden Eagles pushed one run across to tie the game at five. Zac Rogers was next on the hill for the Tide and worked a scoreless sixth.
In the bottom of the sixth the Tide broke a 5-5 tie on doubles by Avant and Vance. Leading off the seventh, Taylor Braley doubled and Rogers was replaced by Davis Vainer. Vainer, showing an electric 93-94 mph fast ball and a wicked curve, stranded the runner with a fly ball and two strikeouts.
The Tide busted the game wide open in the bottom of the seventh, scoring five more times to put the game out of reach. A Cody Henry lead-off double, and an RBI single by Alexander were the only hits in the inning. Avant drove in another run after being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and then Wood drove in his second run of the night after drawing a bases-loaded walk. Vance hit a long fly ball to score another of the runs. ‘Bama added one more insurance run in the bottom of the eighth.
Vainer had an uneventful eighth and ninth to earn his first career save, striking out four in his three innings of work. Rogers was the winning pitcher, his first win in a Tide uniform.
Coach Greg Goff continues to use his roster, playing a total of 20 players in this game, with five pitchers and 15 position players seeing action. This strategy keeps the players engaged in the game, knowing they could be called on at any time.
The top of the order was particularly productive, collecting eight of the team’s 14 hits, and driving in 10 of the 12 runs-scored. The big guns on the night were: Avant (3-4, 3 RBI, 2 2B, 2 SB, three runs scored); Vance (3-4, 2B, sac, 2 RBI); Alexander (2-3, 3 RBI, 2 BB, HR (2)); Wood (2 BB, 2 RBI, run scored.)
The Tide continues their long season-opening twenty-one home-game stretch with three games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, when they host Oral Roberts. The game times are 5 p.m on Friday, 2 p.m on Saturday and 1 p.m on Sunday. All will be available on SEC Network Plus.
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